Sometimes the message is all about the perception of the receiver.

Well, it’s been awhile since I blogged, and the least I can say about it is that life kind of got derailed for a bit.

As you may remember, I had experienced a kitchen accident leaving me with a good sized chunk missing from my dominant index finger. That’s all healed up now, but typing was a real bummer for a few months. Sometimes you just have to stop, rest, and take stock of what’s important.  As such, I just needed to take a blog break for a bit.

As part of a break from blogging, which I’ve missed, I’ve been thinking about the types of things I write, and the sorts of things I post on other social media. 

What prompted me to do a deep think about these things is that I’ve been forced to check myself, to make sure I wasn’t posting things that may be generally offensive to others. You see, a friend said something to me that was kind of mean, said in spiteful, sarcastic kind of tone, about some things I post. These things were general posts about stuff that I do, or places I go, and I couldn’t figure out what was it that I did that was so offensive.

I began to stew on this quite a lot, to the point where I felt compelled to ask my mother, and several trusted friends, what it could be. Being familiar with my postings they had no answer for me, and were equally as puzzled. 

In thinking this through, I remember something from a college communications course I took. The instructor looked us all in the eye one day and stated emphatically that how information is received is a product of the receiver, of their life experiences, and many times you can’t do anything about that. Our perception will color everything we see and hear, and sometimes the intent of the speaker/poster is lost getting through all of that.  I see how that is true in my life sometimes, especially with political and social issues. 

Sometimes there is no intent other than sharing your joy in doing something that makes you happy, but it can get caught up and discolored in the filter of others’ unhappiness.  It’s painful to hear. 

I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t fix that because it won’t make these people happier to see me unhappy… at least I hope not. I’ve made an effort to try not to post when I’m sad or super angry about something. It gives the effect that my life looks super rosy on Facebook, and that is an unintended result. I have a regular life with ups and downs, just like everyone else.

Blogging is quite different for me than regular social media. This is the space I use to help myself work through some things I struggle with sometimes. I like to keep it as positive as I can but once in awhile you will see things here that aren’t as happy, like today. Thanks for your patience while I work through this.  It was hard to write about, and I spent more time than normal editing this post.

Having said that, I always do my best to end my blog posts on a positive beat. I want you to know that it really is ok to be happy. It’s ok to share what you find joy in doing. Rock on, happy campers, and many blessings to you all!


What do you say to someone who hates where you live?

I read a blog today that got under my skin a little bit because of the negative tone. I won’t say the name of the blog or the author, because the point of this posting is not to beat up on this guy for his attitude, but to really think out loud about how we interact with those who come from another place.

My experience growing up in North Dakota, a place with many places of higher education and two military bases, has included meeting people from everywhere in the world. For being a very small, rural state, we have quite a diversity of people who come and go. The two complaints I have heard consistently over the years is about how there isn’t much to do here, and that the cold is so awful to deal with. Sometimes people are pretty mean in their complaints about my home state. I understand that we don’t have all of the metropolitan amenities that more populous places do, and I understand that the weather can be a serious bummer in the winter time.  I don’t, however, get how it’s good manners to bash someone else’s home. Since when is that a good way to behave? Yet, it happens…so how do you respond? Many people would respond, “if you don’t like it, leave.”

I’m ashamed to say that I’ve said that very thing. In my youth, going to UND, I encountered all sorts of people from everywhere, and some were persistent about making sure everyone knew how miserable they were because North Dakota or UND wasn’t up to their expectations. Out of defense of my home, I told several people if they didn’t like it here, they were free to leave. Over the years, my thinking about that has changed. I wonder if just the simple act of listening to that frustrated person, helping them find something they need, or pointing them in the direction of something they can’t find, would make a difference for them. Every place has its limitations and its treasures. The limitations always stick out, like North Dakota winters. Unfortunately, many things we treasure about North Dakota aren’t always so apparent to those visiting, and I think it’s up to us to be as gracious as we can be. Hopefully, with time and experience, our home will grow on them. Whether they stay or not, it’s my hope that the people who spend time here have at least some good memories when they leave.

Having said all that, here are some general suggestions for those living somewhere else temporarily, and for those whose home area they are living in…wherever that might be:

For the temporary dwellers:

1. You will not win any allies if you keep spewing negativity about the people, culture and place you’re living. After you’ve expressed the opinion once, it gets old to have to hear it over and over.

2. Be active in your search for things of interest. Rather than waste your time (and others) going on about how boring it is where you are temporarily living, take the time to really find out about the place. I mean research the history, dig deep to find out what’s going on regarding cultural festivals and entertainment. Learn about the people who live there. Their behavior and attitudes will make more sense to you if you make an effort to understand them.

3. The people where you are temporarily living do not want to hear about how it’s too ugly/cold/hot/dry/wet, or whatever other condition there is that you disapprove of.  Make an effort to find something that you like about the weather or landscape where you are staying. Or, if you can’t find anything likable about it at all, please keep it to yourself.

4. Treat others as you expect to be treated. Really. Think before you speak…just being polite will get you a lot farther than being negative.

For those who live in a place where people from far away come to live temporarily:

1. Please be patient with people who have just moved here from out of state, or even from out of the country. It’s probably quite a culture shock for them, moving to a new and different place, so cut them some  slack. Be a good neighbor and help them get acclimated.

2. Not everyone has the same beliefs you do, so don’t expect people who come to your area to live, for whatever reason, to drop their beliefs and take up yours.

3. Think about how you’d want folks to treat you if you were living in a place far from home. Be nice…there’s no reason not to.

4. For those having to deal with temporary dwellers who make ugly comments about your home area, try to help them out. Perhaps their attitudes wouldn’t suck if more people tried to get to know them, or help them get what they need. Perhaps, if you demonstrate the behavior you expect from them, you can help cultivate a better experience for everyone.

So there it is, helpful or not. I’d welcome any comments from those who’ve been on both either side, or both sides of this issue.

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